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Israel: New Rules on Medical Care of a Minor Victimized by Parent

(June 14, 2016) On March 29, 2016, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed an amendment to the Patient’s Rights Law that obviates the need for parental consent and delivery of medical information in certain cases of the medical treatment of minors. (Patient’s Rights Law (Amendment No. 9), 5776-2016 (Amendment Law), SEFER HAHUKIM [BOOK OF LAWS, the official gazette, SH], 5776 No. 2544, p. 695, Knesset website (in Hebrew); Patient’s Rights Law, 5756-1996 (the Law), SH 5756 No. 1591 p. 327, as amended; see also Ruth Levush, Israel: Amendment Establishes the Right to Be Accompanied During Receipt of Medical Care, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Dec. 30, 2014).)

The stated objective of the Patient’s Rights Law is to “determine the rights of a person seeking or receiving medical treatment and to protect his/her dignity and privacy.” (Patient’s Rights Law, § 1.) The Law thus addresses topics such as the right to receive medical care (id. Ch. C), the need for the patient’s consent for receipt of medical care (id. Ch. D), and the recording of medical data regarding treatment (id. Ch. E).

The Amendment Law amends the provisions requiring medical consent to specifically address the treatment of minors. Medical consent is a legal act that would normally require parental approval in accordance with the Capacity and Guardianship Law, 5722-1962 (16 LAWS OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL 106 (5722-1961/62), as amended).

According to the Amendment Law, parental consent for a medical procedure for a minor will not be required when the treating medical professional becomes aware that the minor’s parent was either convicted of, or is the subject of an indictment for, a sexual or violent offense against the minor. Parental consent will not be required for the duration of the criminal procedure conducted against the parent. Information on the medical care of a minor under these circumstances will similarly not be shared with the parent during that time. (Amendment Law, § 3, adding § 16A(a) to the Law).

For the purpose of precluding the requirement of parental consent or delivery of medical information, the Amendment Law defines a conviction as including a determination by a court that the parent committed the offense. Such a determination also applies when the parent was declared not guilty because s/he was mentally ill at the time of committing the offense. (Id. § 3, adding § 16A(d) to the Law), referencing §15(b) of the Treatment of Mental Patients Law, 5751-1991, SH 5771 No. 1339 p. 58.)

The Amendment Law further defines the period in which a criminal procedure is conducted against the parent as commencing with the filing of an indictment, and lasting “as long as the defendant has not been exonerated… or the court has not determined that s/he has not committed the said offenses or that there was no withdrawal of the indictment … .” (Id.)

The Amendment Law authorizes a family court, however, in response to the parent’s request and upon finding the existence of justifiable special circumstances, to order that the parent’s consent for or receipt of information on the minor’s care be required. Such an order will be issued only if the court is convinced that it would not harm the child. (Amendment Law, § 3, adding § 16A(B)(1) to the Law.) The Amendment Law clarifies that a petition of the parent under such circumstances cannot delay the provision of medical care to the minor, nor can it enable the delivery of information to the parent until the court has issued an order in that regard. (Id. § 3, adding § 16A(B)(2) to the Law.)

The Amendment Law will enter into force on July 1, 2016. (Amendment Law, § 7.)